Saturday morning January 21, 1871- 7 A.M. bvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbvbv
As the family gathers for breakfast and take their seats around the table they greet Victoria who is already there waiting patiently. When Nick walks in, “Ah, ha,” he shouts “That boy is late again. When is he going to start coming in here like the rest of us. He’s been here 5 days now and still coming in late.”
“Nick please,” Victoria urges, “Control yourself; let’s be patient. He’ll be here, this is Saturday.” Nick says, “But we have lots to do today.”
“We do,” Victoria replies, “But everything will fall into place, so take it easy.” Glancing over at Audra, “Yeah okay,” Nick vows, “I’ll be good.”
As Audra offers to go and see where he is, Victoria replies, “Go ahead dear,” and getting up Audra heads up the stairs while Silas places the breakfast on the table.
Knocking at Heath’s door but not getting any response Audra opens it to find that it is empty. Going back down the stairs she sees Silas opening the front door and Heath walking in. After exchanging greetings Audra says, “You’re up early this morning, aren’t you?” Heath answers, “Yes Ma’am.”
Taking hold of his hand, “Come with me,” she says, “It’s time for breakfast.” Replying, “Yes Ma’am,” he is led to the dining room and as he tries to move his hand away Audra grabs hold of it again keeping a tighter grip on it.
“I found him,” Audra announces. Nick sternly asks, “Was he lost?” Glaring at him, “NICK!” she barks. Ignoring Nick’s comment, “I see,” Victoria says and upon telling him goodmorning Nick asks, “Where were you?” Nervously Heath answers, “Outside.”
“What were you doing outside?” Nick inquires, “When we’re sitting down for breakfast.” Swallowing hard “Nothing” Heath answers, “Coming in.”
“Forget about it,” Victoria says, “It’s time for breakfast and we have to be getting ready. Heath, won’t you come and sit?” Replying, “Yes sir,” Heath takes his seat.
“We need to be leaving in an hour,” Victoria says and as everyone bows their heads Gene is asked to say grace. As they start eating and upon glancing over at Heath Victoria tells him to start eating in which he responds, “Yes um,” and picks up his fork. While everyone is eating Heath looks around the table and then back at Nick constantly in between looking down at his plate. Both Audra and Gene continue to take notice.
Finishing their breakfast while Victoria has Nick getting the buggy hitched up, Audra, Gene and Jarrod go to change into the Sunday clothing and seeing Heath still seated Victoria asks him to go with her in which he replies “Yes um,” and obediently goes with her up the stairs where she escorts him to the bathroom.
Handing him the shaving brush and some shaving cream, “You know how to use one of these I’m sure,” she says. Replying, “Yes um, I do,” he takes it from her.
After instructing him to put his new suit on and then come downstairs when he’s finished she walks away while he responds, “Yes um,” and closes the door behind him. He washes and shaves his face and then goes to his room to change into his new suit.
Audra is first to come down the stairs all dressed in a black dress, with black shoes, black nylons, a black hat on her head with a netted rim and carrying a black purse. Behind her is Gene who is attired in a blue outfit with a black vest, blue shirt and black shoes. Standing there Victoria has them both model their new outfits before having them proceed out the door to the awaiting buggy.
While Nick and Ciego get the buggy ready Duke comes over and after exchanging greetings with both of them he asks of Nick, “Did you think about what we talked about last night?” Nick replies, “Duke, please, not now.”
Exhaling deeply “Very well” Duke says “Just thought I’d ask and let you know I came to use one of the buggies.” Nick replies “Go right ahead, you don’t need to ask.”
“Well these days, I am not so sure,” Duke says sternly, “Oh, I talked with the men and Jim, Johnny, Ron and Bobby will remain and help out.” After thanking him, Nick tells him he will see him town and going their separate ways he heads for the house while Duke hitches up one of the buggies and heads towards town.
As Audra and Gene walk up to the awaiting buggy they are greeted by Ciego who assists Audra into the middle seat while Gene seats himself in the far back seat. As Nick walks in the front door Victoria has him going up the stairs to change. Going up the stairs he passes by Heath coming down the stairs and making eye contact neither one utters a single sound as they continue passing by the other.
“Heath,” Victoria calls out, “Come here. Let’s take a look at you.”
Replying, “Yes um,” Heath obediently comes down to the bottom step and waits to be inspected by Victoria who fixes the collar of his shirt, brushes the top of the jacket with her hand, places a handkerchief in the left pocket of his jacket, then having him turn around she inspects him further. Glancing down at his shoes and impressed with his appearance, “You look very nice. Jarrod did an excellent job with picking them out.”
Responding, “Yes um,” Heath is then instructed to go outside and wait with the others in the buggy in which he obediently and quickly complies.
Minutes later both Jarrod and Nick come down the stairs dressed in black suits with dark brown shirts and black shoes. As they and Victoria exit the house the men come up the walk. After exchanging greetings with them they are instructed to go inside. Reaching the buggy Jarrod assists Victoria in the front seat while Nick sits alongside of Heath in the far back. Moving alongside of Victoria in the driver’s box Victoria says, “Alright Jarrod, I think we are all set,” looking back and seeing everyone settled in, “Take it slow and easy I want us to get there and (emphasizing the word) in one piece.”
Replying, “You got it lovely lady,” Jarrod steers the team towards the gate and as he is heading for town the family quietly takes in the scenery along the way.
Inside the house as Silas is giving the men instructions of what to do and how to fix each plate neatly with the sandwiches, the sliced fruit and vegetables, he tells them, “You boys are doing a fine job, just fine, keep it up.”
Being the first to arrive at the church Duke and a woman in her middle 30’s with long blonde hair parted in the middle on the side of him quietly thank the two men who politely take the buggy away from the entrance. Catching sight of the Barkleys coming “Duke, look!” the woman calls out “The Barkleys have arrived.”
“Oh good,” Duke replies, “Come with me Jenny,” and as Jenny goes with him he goes to greet the family who are starting to pile out of the buggy with Jarrod assisting Victoria and Nick assisting Audra. Seeing Heath still seated, “You coming out of there” Nick barks “Or what?” Victoria then says “Come on Heath.”
Replying, “Yes um,” Heath obediently climbs out.
Greeting Jenny Heath says, “Howdy Ma’am,” with Jenny informing him, “You could just call me Jenny.” Heath then says, “Goodmorning Jenny.” Jenny tells him, “Duke told me a little about you. We’ll have to talk some later.” Heath responds, “Yes Ma’am.”
Duke then informs her, “We better get inside,” and walking away they go up the stairs to the church. Seeing all the people gathered around, “Mother,” Audra calls out, “Look at all these people.”
“It’s just about how many came to your father’s when he passed away,” Victoria states. Then recognizing a woman with blonde curly hair in her middle 40’s, Victoria quickly calls out, “Louise!” catching sight of each other Louise calls out to Victoria as they quickly go into one another’s arms.
Moving away from each other and studying the other “Here” Victoria says “Let me take a look at you” with Louise replying “Oh Victoria, it’s so good to see you. I can’t begin to tell you” and Victoria saying “Oh Louise” going back into one another’s arms again with Louise uttering “It’s such a sad day” and Victoria replying “Yes it is.”
Walking over to the children starting with Audra “Audra” Louise says “You’re so beautiful.” Audra replies “Thank you.” Going over to Jarrod and Nick next “Jarrod, Nick” she asks “Do you remember me?” taking them into her arms and exchanging quick hugs “I sort of do” answers Nick with Jarrod saying “It’s been a long time.” Louise mimics “A very long time.” Looking at Audra and Gene side by side “Oh the babies” she says taking them both into her arms “I can’t believe it.”
“You probably don’t remember,” Victoria notes, “But Louise and Bill use to come over all the time. Do you remember the rocking horse we had?” Nick answers, “Sort of.” Victoria mentions, “Bill made that for you.” Gene asks, “What happened?” Victoria replies, “Oh something happened and they went away for a long time.” Audra asks, “Where’s Bill?” Louise answers, “He’s dead Audra.”
“Sorry,” Audra says. Louise mentions, “He died several years ago.”
Victoria then introduces Heath to Louise, “My goodness,” glancing up at him, “He looks,” Louise says placing her hand over her chest, “Just like a much younger version of Tom. Is he Tom’s son?” Victoria replies, “He is, yes.”
As Louise says hello to him he replies, “Hello Ma’am,” as she is giving him a hug and says, “I could see the resemblance” Jarrod and Nick exchange quiet glances.
Noticing the various callers going inside “We better get inside,” Jarrod suggests. Victoria says, “Louise, we’ll talk later.” Louise replies, “Yes of course.”
As Louise walks away Audra catches sight of Jessie pulling up with her mother, Diane who is a woman in her middle 40’s with blonde hair curled up in a bun in the back and bangs in the front and her father, Larry, beside her who has grayish brown hair and parted to the side grabs Heath by the hand and goes over to them.
Piling out of the buggy and catching sight of Audra approaching “Oh hi Audra” Jessie calls out “You’re here already?” Audra replies “We just got here ourselves, well maybe a couple minutes ago.” Jessie asks “Have Patty or Henry come yet?”
Responding “Not yet” Audra then says, “Jessie, I’d like for you to meet someone,” pointing to Heath, “This here is Heath.” Exchanging hellos Heath addresses her as Ma’am. Audra then informs her, “Jessie, he’s my brother.”
Doing a double-take “Your brother?” Jessie turns and says, “Mother,” who is right beside her, “Did you hear what Audra just said?”
“I did,” Diane replies and then after greeting Heath she says, “Nice to meet you.”
Heath replies, “Hi Ma’am.” Diane then tells Jessie “We better be getting inside.”
While Jessie goes inside the church with Diane and Larry Audra begins listening to some of the gatherers talking amongst themselves overhearing one saying “Did you hear what that Barkley girl said; her brother?”
“This is a shock” comes from another, “It’s a disgrace is what it is” comes from another caller “Who would’ve thought of all people?” Then coming from another “One must wonder.” One of the men joins in “And here we thought they were the perfect couple.” Another says “Very respectable.”
“Wonder how Victoria is dealing with it” comes from the second caller. One of the men notes “Did you ever stop to think that perhaps, maybe that boy is her son and not Tom’s?” Another man caller mentions “If that is true, where has he been for all this time? And why did he just pop up now for? I’ve never seen him before until today.”
“I seen him yesterday when Jarrod came into the store to buy shoes for him” Connor notes “He didn’t say anything about him being a brother only that he was staying with him.” One caller says “That’s odd. If he is a brother why didn’t Jarrod come out and say anything?” Another male caller remarks “Maybe he was too ashamed. Perhaps, he didn’t want anyone to know.” Alice comments “That would be my assumption.”
“Who could blame him,” the first caller says, “I wouldn’t want the good name to go down.” One asks, “But what if he is Victoria’s and not Tom’s, where has been all this time?” One speculates, “Maybe out east. Maybe she had him shipped away so no one would know.” Another says, “If that is true why is here now? I would think they would want him to stay far away from here.”
“I would think so too” another notes. One woman surmises “Maybe he came for the services and will leave right after them.” The husband to the woman says “That could be too.” Looking further down the crowd and seeing Victoria alongside of Jarrod, Nick and Gene, the third one replies “Well if I were here and if that boy was my husband’s mistake I would send him far away from here.”
“I agree,” another says. The fourth one replies, “There is no need to bring the proud family name down with having something like that to spoil it.”
“You know” the first caller utters “If my husband did something like that I would send him packing as well as the child. I wouldn’t want to have any reminders hanging around.” The fifth caller replies “I wouldn’t either. My grandmother is from the old school you know and she use to say he made his bed let him lay in it.” Another one joins in “I must tell you I’m shocked. How could Tom do that to poor Victoria? It’s a disgrace to her, her children and their good name.” Another one replies “One could never know.”
Overhearing the talk Audra grabs Heath’s hand, “Come on Heath,” and going back over to the family, “Ignore them!” she tells him, “Don’t listen to anything they have to say,” then calling out, “Mother!” Victoria replies, “Not now.”
Sighing, “Well alright,” Audra catching sight of another girl coming, “Excuse me Heath,” she then says and quickly goes to her who is about 14 yrs of age has light brown hair down past her shoulders calls out, “Patty! Patty!” then taking the palms of her hands into hers, “Oh Patty” who remains quiet Audra tells her how sorry she is and pulling her into her arms Patty tells her “I don’t want to talk right now.” Understanding Audra replies, “That’s alright. It’s going to be alright. We’ll talk later, okay?”
Nodding her head Patty walks away with her hand curled up over her mouth looking downward while Gene crosses to Patty’s brother who is 13 yrs old with short brown hair and bangs in front telling him, “I’m sorry Carl,” who is staring down at the ground nodding his head.
Walking up to Gene “Come on Gene” Jarrod says “Leave Carl be.” Going with Jarrod, Gene joins the rest of the family going up the steps leading to the entrance of the church with Nick escorting Audra and Jarrod escorting Victoria with Heath and Gene following quietly behind them.
I hope no one minds them being Catholic for this part. I am Catholic, and as much as a lot of the story is being realistic as possible, I wanted the mass to be too. And seeing I have a missillette in the house, I used portions of it to be used by Father Nichols. Thanks for being understanding.
Upon entering the church the first man standing closest to the entrance who is in his middle 20’s with dark brown hair parted slightly to the side whispers in Nick’s ear “Could you help out as a Pallbearer? We’re one short.” Nick says “Sure Bill.”
Walking down the aisle they see Nettie sitting in the front row with a man who is in his early 30’s on the side of her, also with brown hair parted slightly on the side, a woman next to him in her late 20’s with long brown hair that reaches her shoulders, a small girl with short brown hair and bangs on their laps, another boy who is 13 with dark blonde hair parted on the side with two other girls both in their middle teens with long brown hair parted in the middle and bangs in the front seated on the side of her. One girl is holding onto Nettie’s hand while the other has her hand around the first girl and the boy just sits there quietly staring down at the floor while Nettie keeps her eyes locked on the casket.
While Nettie keeps her eyes locked on the casket covered up by a black sheet, Jarrod with Victoria, Nick with Audra and Gene and Heath right behind them quietly look over at both sides of the church. On one side they see Sig Swenson and his wife, Abe and his wife, Mrs. Stevens and her husband, the young boy Irving with his parent and little sister, Jessie with her parents, Howard and Helen Merar, Harry the bartender with his wife and two sons, Bob from the Old Mill, his wife and their children, a couple of the attending hands and Mrs. Culhane among the many gatherers.
On the right side they see Maggie and Doug Jackson, Jackie and John Jenkins, Jamie and Lynn Drumm, Kenny and Sally Ward, Wally and Jenny Miles, Mr. and Mrs. Harding, Connor and his wife Alice, Hal the owner of the Roadside Market and his wife and daughters who are in their 20’s, a couple more hands, Madeline and Ray with their 3 daughters, two in their 20’s the other in her teens, Laura the widower wife of Sheriff Harry Anderson, their daughter patty and son Carl. Patty has her head on Laura’s shoulder and Laura has her hand around Patty and on the opposite side of Laura, she has her hand around Carl comforting him among some of the others.
Taking their seats, the Barkleys fill up the second row closest to the front with Duke and his girl Jenny and Louise behind them and her son Charlie and daughter Becky. Glancing around they see many others still pouring in and once all the seats have been taken the rest stand around on either side of the aisles or at the door listening. Before sitting down, Jarrod and Victoria go up to the front and consoled the Sempleworth family reaching out to each one before Victoria asks of Jean, “How you doing?” with Jean replying, “We’re hanging in there.”
Once they finish acknowledging each of them they return to their seats directly behind them. Coming out from the back of the altar and going up to the podium Father Nichols says to everyone, “Will everyone please stand?” as Bill quietly joins the rest of the Sempleworth family.
As everyone stands up, Nettie quietly places her hand over her mouth with a sadden look on her face and takes hold of Chrissy’s offered hand. Taking out the missalette from the shelf underneath the pew and opening it Audra quietly observes Heath nervously holding the booklet.
Nichols then says “Greetings all. In the name of the Father” placing his hand on his forehead “And the son” with everyone following his lead “And of the holy spirit” then taking his hand he puts it over his chest and then to the left side of his shoulder and then to his right “Praised be god, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation! He comforts us in all our afflictions and thus enables us to comfort those who are in trouble with the same consolation we have received from him.”
All in church join in, “Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
While Father Nichols continues speaking Nettie starts sobbing louder. Noticing, “What’s the matter with Grandma?” Chrissy asks of Ed and Jean who both tell her, “Shh!” Then upon everyone sitting back down Chrissy noticing Victoria sobbing and asks, “What’s the matter with Aunt Victoria?” to which both Ed who quickly places her on his lap and Jean tell her again, “Shh!”
Father Nichols continues, “I bless the body of Frank Sempleworth with the holy water that recalls his baptism of which Saint Paul writes: All of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death. By baptism into his death we were buried together with him so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. For if we have been united with him, by likeness to his death so shall we be reunited with him by likeness to his resurrection. On this day of his baptism, Frank Sempleworth will be put with Christ. In the day of Christ’s coming may he be clothed with glory.”
As the organist begins playing Nichols says, “God loved the world so much he gave his only Son that all who believe in him might not perish but might have eternal life,” as he throws dashes of purified water over the casket.
All in the church join in, “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.”
“Remember that your compassion,” Nichols says, “O Lord and your kindness are from of old. In your kindness remember me because of your goodness, O Lord.”
As everyone recites, “To you O Lord, I lift my soul,” Nichols continues with, “Relieve the troubles of my heart and bring me out of my distress. Put an end to my affliction and my suffering and take away all my sins.”
Everyone says, “To you O Lord, I lift my soul.”
Nichols continues “Preserve my life and rescue me, let me not be put to shame for I take refuge in you. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me because I wait for you O Lord.” All join in “To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.” Returning to the book he has before him Nichols says “Lord be with us in this hour of sorrow.”
While reading and speaking Victoria goes back in time to six months ago to the day when Father Nichols recites the same words when Tom’s body was there in the casket.
Six Months Ago-July 6, 1870
Reliving that moment Victoria thinks back to when she received word about Tom. Nick goes back to when he found his body up near the creek and upon seeing his still body there, “Oh Father!” Nick yells, “NO! NO! Father, NO!” at the top of his lungs. Jarrod goes back to when he learned of his Father’s passing when Nick comes into the house where everyone is gathered in the study with Audra and Gene engaged in a card game, Victoria doing some sewing, while he is working on some paperwork at his desk and looking up sees Nick coming through the doorway with tears in his eyes calling out, “Mother!”
Quickly getting up out of her seat, “Nick,” Victoria asks, “What’s wrong?” going over to him who in turn takes her into his arms and embracing tightly tells her, “Mother,” with tears going down his cheeks, “He’s dead. Father’s dead!”
“What?” she says, “What is it you said Nick?” Still crying, “He’s dead Mother,” Nick reiterates, “I found his body down the road. I went into town and got the sheriff and the doctor, someone killed him. Someone shot him. I don’t know who,
but he’s dead Mother, I’m sorry.”
Joining them and grabbing Nick’s arm, “Nick,” Jarrod calls out. Nick informs him, “It’s true Jarrod; the God sicken truth.” Staring straight ahead with a blank look on his face, “My God,” Jarrod blurts out. Overhearing with horrified expressions on their faces, “Nick,” both Audra and Gene say, “Father’s dead?” stopping what they are doing.
Yelling out, “Oh Tom, no,” Victoria cries, “NO! NO!” sobbing uncontrollably, “Oh God, no,” and placing her hand over her mouth she runs up the stairs to her room closing the door behind her grabbing Tom’s picture from off the dresser and sitting on the floor with her back to the door crying again, “Oh Tom!”
Going over to the kids seated “Yes” Nick says getting down on his knees “He’s dead” trying to take them into his arms “I’m sorry.” Slapping Nick away “That’s not true!” Gene yells out. With tears going down her cheeks “That can’t be” Audra cries “Father” placing her hand over her mouth “Can’t be dead, he just can’t!”
Embracing her, “I’m sorry Audra,” Nick replies, “I wish it weren’t but it is. Do you think I like coming home bringing news like that with me? I’m so sorry.”
“Father” Gene gaping says “Can’t die, he can’t die” and Audra crying “I don’t believe it, I don’t believe it” pulling away from Nick.
Crying “It is true” Nick replies with Audra saying “No,” running up the stairs “It’s not true, it’s not true!”
Both Nick and Jarrod call out to her and then to Gene who is moving away from them saying “Leave me alone, just leave me alone.” Going to him “Gene” Nick replies “Come here.” Yelling “NO!” Gene says “I don’t want to come here” and going out the front door “I don’t want anything! Nothing!” as he continues.
Following Gene out the door, “Oh Jarrod,” Nick says while Jarrod stands there with tears flowing down his cheeks. Going up to her room Audra drops down on her bed crying. Seconds later, Jarrod goes into the study shuts the door behind him and throws everything in his path onto the floor starting with the cushions from the couches. Then moving to the desk he clears that off and while everything lands onto the floor he sits down, puts his hands together and bringing his chin to them while quietly sobbing heavily “My God” he says “Father!”
Going into the barn with tears in their eyes while Nick saddles up Coco and rides away Gene begins beating up stacks of hay crying, “No Father, no! Why?” he asks, “Why did he have to die?” as he continues thrashing and thrashing angrily. A tearful Nick rides around until he reaches the streets of Stockton where he stops at the nearest saloon and begins gulping down mugs of beer.
Reliving that moment with tears going down his cheeks Duke thinks back to after he found out and went looking for Nick going to every hotel, every saloon in Stockton until he came across him. Finding him in Harry’s drinking and drinking he goes up to him and upon calling out to him grabs the glass out of his hand telling him, “Don’t do that.” Barking, “Leave me alone,” Nick snaps.
“I’m not leaving you alone,” Duke tells him, “I know this is a tragedy and a big blow to you but you can’t just sit here and drink yourself away.” Nick shouts, “YES, I CAN, Now GO!” Duke replies, “No Nick, you have a family and a ranch that needs you right now. More than ever now! And you can’t stop living because of it, you have to learn from it and you have to go on. You need to help your mother and each of your brothers and sister to overcome this. It’s not easy on any of them either.” Still reaching for the mug from Duke, “Give me that,” Nick barks.
“No Nick,” Duke replies, “I am not going to let you drink yourself to death here!”
Still reaching for it, “Give it to me,” Nick barks again, “If you don’t I will get up and just get another one, now give it back to me.”
Keeping it from him, “No Nick” Duke snaps back “I am not giving it back to you nor are you taking another drink. Drinking here and getting drunk is not the answer. Your father wouldn’t have wanted that of you, your father and I were as close as you and Jarrod are. We were like brothers and I know he would be very upset if he knew what you were doing. Come on Nick” Duke continues saying “Don’t do this. Your family needs you, your mother needs your support, needs you to take control” Nick slowly moves towards the glass “Your father is no longer here Nick” Duke reminds him “You are now in charge of the ranch and responsible for your family helping them get through this, helping them to cope and move on. Jarrod is the oldest but he too needs you now.”
Crying into his hands “Oh Duke” Nick says. Quickly taking him into his arms “It’s going to be okay Nick, you have me” he tells him “You have your brothers, your sister and your mother. We have a long way to go, we have our work cut out for us but we’ll be there for each other okay? Your father would want me to be there for you; for each of you.” Nick replies, “I know he would.”
Duke then asks Nick if he’s ready to travel in which he responds, “I am,” and upon them leaving the saloon with Duke’s hand on Nick’s shoulder until he is reaches his horse. Mounting up they head back together until they reach the road leading to the ranch, “You think you will be alright now?” Duke asks.
Nodding his head, “I’ll be alright,” Nick informs him, “Just need to be alone for a spell,” and leaving Duke Nick rides around the perimeter of the ranch.
Still in her room Victoria has now moved from the floor to the bed lying there on her left side running her hand over the pillow and down the mattress looking straight ahead with tears going down her cheeks. In the study, Jarrod shortly after wiping the tears from his eyes gets up out of his chair and taking control of his emotions goes up the stairs. As Silas enters the study seconds later he shakes his head in disgust but quietly goes to work cleaning up the mess putting everything back where it needs to go.
Reaching Victoria’s door and after knocking at it and not getting any response Jarrod opens it to find her lying on the bed. Going over to her on the other side of the mattress he calls out to her. As he is placing his hand on her shoulder she tells him to go. Jarrod replies “Mother, I hate seeing you like this.”
“Jarrod” Victoria then says “I want to be alone. Please do as I ask. Go!” Giving her a kiss on the cheek “I’ll be back later to check on you” he informs her as he gets back up. Leaving the room he heads down to Audra’s room to which he knocks at the door to which he doesn’t get any response. Walking in, he finds that she has fallen asleep. Crouching down and looking at her innocent face he places a kiss on the forehead and then quietly walks back out and goes down the stairs.
Reliving that moment in time Gene thinks back to when he was out in the barn.
Seeing Gene beating the life out of the haystacks Jarrod calls out to him who yells out, “Leave me alone.” Jarrod tells him, “I’m not leaving you alone. Look at what you’re doing.” Gene says, “Who cares?” Jarrod replies, “I care and so does the family.” Gene then reiterates, “Jarrod, Father’s dead.”
“I know he is Gene,” Jarrod says, “But destroying all this isn’t bringing him back. It’s just leaving behind a big mess for someone to have to go and clean up.”
“I don’t care,” Gene yells out with Jarrod replying, “But I do Gene. Don’t do this, don’t do this to yourself.” Gene asks, “Why did someone have to do this, Jarrod? Why did someone have to go and kill Father?” with tears in his eyes.
“I don’t know,” Jarrod tells him. Dropping to the ground, “Father,” Gene yells out again, “FATHER!” Going to him and taking him into his arms, “Oh Gene,” Jarrod says to him crying uncontrollably into his shirt. Comforting him, “It’s going to be okay,” he tells him. Gene then says, “Jarrod, Father’s never coming home again.”
“No Gene,” Jarrod replies, “Afraid not.” Gene asks, “Why Jarrod? Why did this have to happen, to Father? It’s just not fair, it’s just not fair.”
“I ask myself the same questions Gene,” Jarrod says, “And so does Mother and Audra and Nick. None of us has that answer and may never know either. I know it’s not the best thing to hear but it’s the best answer I could give to you. It’s just one of those things. It’s something we have to live with like it or not.”
“Well,” Gene barks, “I don’t like it. It stinks! Father was a good man. He was a good man; he never did any harm to anyone. Why did someone have to go and kill him for? Why?”
“Don’t know Gene,” Jarrod replies, “And I agree with you, it does stink. But we could sit here all we want and say all we want however, everything we are saying or doing or thinking about will not change the fact that he will never be coming home again. We have to go on Gene. Life needs to go on; we have to move forward as a family and as individuals. We can’t let Father’s death stop us totally from enjoying life and being who we are.” Gene snaps, “I hate it Jarrod, I hate it.”
“Do you think I like it?” Jarrod asks of him “Do you think any of us likes it? We’re all in this together Gene. We must be strong for each other, strong for Mother, we must be strong as a family, as a Barkley. We must continue to fight and be who we are Gene. We must not let those responsible win. It would prove to them that they are much stronger and much more powerful than us. You don’t want that do you?” Crying his heart out, “It’s not fair Jarrod,” Gene says, “It’s just not fair.” Comforting him, “I know Gene,” Jarrod replies, “I know it’s not fair. It’s going to be alright, sh!” as he rocks him back and forth.
“It’s so unfair” Gene repeats again “So unfair.” Still soothing him “Sh! Sh!” Jarrod tells him. Then sitting there for a few minutes quietly in one another’s arms Gene wipes the tears from his eyes and coming to terms with it asks of Jarrod “Do you want me to clean this up?” Showing a little smile, “If you would,” Jarrod then says to him, “You think you’ll be okay? I need to go find Nick and see how he’s holding up.” Nodding his head, “Go ahead” Gene replies “I’ll be alright.”
Coming into the barn overhearing “Jarrod” Duke says “I saw Nick go off in direction of the creek. I’ll help Gene clean this up.” Jarrod asks of Duke “How is he doing?” Duke replies “A little better. Go to him; he could use you right now.” Nodding his head Jarrod takes Jingo and heads over to the creek while Duke assists Gene with cleaning up the mess. Grabbing two rakes they begin raking.
Crying again “I don’t like this at all” Gene says as he stops raking. With tears going down his cheeks “I don’t either” Duke notes “But it’s going to be okay. You have me; you have your mother, your brothers and sister. You need to be there for each other, keep thinking about that okay?” Gene says “I’m trying to.”
“Come on” Duke replies “Let’s go back to cleaning this up.” Nodding his head Gene resumes raking up in between spurts of stopping and crying. Duke quietly watching does the same.
Reaching the creek Nick dismounts and sits in front a tree overlooking the water. Wrapping his arms around his drawn up legs sobbing, “Oh Father!” he cries out. Catching sight of him Jarrod quickly dismounts and goes over to him.
As Jarrod gets down on one knee, “Oh Jarrod,” Nick says as they go into each other’s arms embracing tightly and sobbing heavily, “Oh Nick,” Jarrod utters.
After a couple minutes of being in one another’s arms Jarrod tells Nick, “It’s going to be alright. We’re all in this together. And as a family we will get through this and with each of our strengths will only help us to get stronger and continue on,” as he listens and nods his head.
Minutes later returning to the house Nick goes up the stairs to Audra’s room.
Reliving that moment Audra thinks back to Nick coming into her bedroom.
Walking in and seeing her on the bed Nick calls out to her and as she is just lying there he crosses to the bed where she says, “Nick,” as he takes a seat on the edge of the bed, “I don’t want you here right now.”
“I know you don’t,” Nick replies, “But I’m here anyway,” holding his arms out to her, “Come here,” and as she quickly goes into them, “Oh Nick,” she cries, “This is so awful,” as he holds her tightly.
“I know it is” Nick replies “It’s terrible! But it’s gonna be okay. We’re a family right?” as she nods her head “Then now” he continues “Now as a family is when we really need to stick together; more than we ever had before and I need you just as much as you need me.” Pulling away, “You don’t need me,” she says to him.
Wiping her tears with the end of his sleeve “Yes I do” he tells her “We’re all in this together and we’ll all bounce back. Nothing will keep this family down, the unity we share keep us bound together” looking into her eyes while lifting her chin up “You have a way of coming to me” he notes “And getting me to listen to you and you know I always give in. You’re my little sister and I love you” holding her tightly with Audra smiling saying “I love you Nick and I would do anything for you.”
Running his hands up and down her back,” I know that,” he replies, “And I love you,” kissing the top of her forehead, “And I would do anything for you,” as they look at the other, “Now I know the hurt won’t go away anytime soon, it hurts me just as much as it hurts you but staying in here all the time is not healthy and it’s not gonna bring Father back home to us. So,” he insists, “Why don’t we go down the stairs and I’ll make us something to eat and then maybe we’ll play some gin, okay?” Replying, “Okay,” Audra gets up and goes with Nick out the door.
Returning to Victoria’s room Jarrod goes to check on her and asks, “Could I get you anything?” Replying, “No Jarrod,” she remains lying there staring straight ahead, “I don’t want anything right now.” Crossing to the bed, “I don’t like seeing you like this,” Jarrod says, “Mother, please talk to me.”
“I don’t want to talk,” Victoria answers, “I don’t want anything.” Jarrod asks, “How about something to eat, some coffee?” Victoria replies, “I don’t want anything Jarrod, I’m not hungry. Please go.” Jarrod then quietly walks out.
Meeting up with Jarrod coming out of the room Nick asks, “How is she?” Jarrod replies, “She won’t talk. She doesn’t want anything.” Nick then asks, “What do you want to do?” Jarrod answers, “Why don’t we just leave her alone for now? I’ll bring her a tray up and hopefully she’ll at least.” Nick replies, “Yeah okay.”
Going into the kitchen Jarrod quietly assists Silas with putting a tray together for Victoria. Taking it up to her once they finish, consisting of a cup of coffee, sandwiches, a piece of apple cobbler with silverware and a napkin using the back stairwell he places it on the dresser. He then tells her, “I brought you up a tray. When you’re up to it, it’s right here okay?” still not answering or moving Jarrod plants a kiss on her cheek, “I love you,” he tells her and then quietly walks out.
While Victoria remains in her room the siblings are gathered around the table eating their dinner. Quietly they look from one to the other and then at the vacant seat at the head of the table. As tears flow down Audra and Gene’s cheeks Jarrod and Nick take turns wiping them away with the sides of their fingers while looking to the other without uttering a single word throughout the entire dinner.
A couple hours later, Victoria slowly gets up off the bed and makes her way to the dresser. With a solemn expression on her face she grabs the sandwich and sitting on the bed takes a bite from it. As she resumes crying she slowly finishes the sandwich and everything else on the tray including the cold coffee. Taking the empty tray down to the kitchen she places it on the countertop and then going into the parlor sits in one of the chairs facing the flickering flames of the fireplace she begins crying some more.
Later at night after turning in Audra is lying on her bed thinking, crying and looking out the window. Not being able to sleep she gets up and goes down the hall to Jarrod’s room. Hearing the knock on the door Jarrod calls out “Come in” and upon hearing his voice she walks in seeing him lying on his bed who asks of her “What’s the matter honey? Can’t sleep?” As she shakes her head he tells her “Come here,” who quickly goes to him.
Taking her into his arms he embraces her as she says crying, “I keep trying to be strong Jarrod but just can’t seem to do it. I try falling asleep and all I do is just lay
there thinking.” Jarrod tells her, “I do too. Maybe it will help if we try together.”
Audra asks, “Do you think it will be alright?” Jarrod answers, “For now it is. Right now, nothing around here will be normal. So anything that could help us we need to go with, okay?” Nodding her head, “Okay” she replies. Jarrod then says, “Come on over here,” and as she climbs up on the other side of the bed he asks, “How’s that honey?” With her head on the pillow “Fine I guess” she answers. Jarrod then suggests they try getting some sleep and upon bidding one another goodnight they try falling asleep.
Lying there for a couple minutes they look to the other. Taking the fingers of his left hand Jarrod soothingly runs them up and down her cheek softly until she closes her eyes. After a few more minutes Jarrod closes his and falls asleep too.
Nick lying on his bed constantly thinks about what happened. Not being able to sleep he gets up and goes out the door. Gene lying in his bed also thinking of what happened can’t sleep either and getting up he goes out his door. Upon heading for Jarrod’s room he is stopped and startled by Nick who calls out to him and upon hearing his voice, “Oh Nick,” he says seeing him standing outside his door.
“What’s the matter Gene?” Nick asks “Can’t sleep?” Shaking his head, “No,” Gene replies “I tried and tried but just can’t seem to do it.” Nick informs him “I can’t either. I don’t think any of us will be able to sleep tonight.” Gene asks “What do you want to do?” Nick then says “How about we go downstairs and I make us both a nice hot cup of hot chocolate maybe that will help.” Replying, “Yeah okay,” Gene goes with Nick down the back stairwell.
While making hot chocolate Nick has Gene taking a seat at the table. Minutes later Gene asks of Nick, “How long does it take for the hurt to go away?”
“I don’t know,” Nick answers, “I’m older than you but it hurts me just as much as it hurts you. I don’t know how to answer that Gene to be perfectly honest and it hurts each of us just as much but I guess when it does we’ll know. I think everyone has a different set of time. I don’t think we all have to deal with it the best way we know how and in our own way.” Gene asks, “Like me taking my anger out on the stacks of hay in the barn?”
“Something like that” Nick says as he brings over the two mugs and occupies one of the empty chairs “While you were beating up the hay I was down at the saloon drinking and drinking while Jarrod sat in the study and threw everything around and both Audra and Mother took out their hurt by crying upstairs in their rooms. But just like Jarrod coming to you to stop, Duke came into town and stopped me.” Sipping his hot chocolate” How long” Gene asks “Will Mother be hurting?”
“That” Nick says “Is an answer I can’t give Gene. Depends on Mother and how she feels. We all handle it differently. Mother may take awhile but then again may not. She is a strong woman and just might surprise us” sipping his hot chocolate “But for now we need to keep an open mind and do whatever we can in way of supporting her and to each other. Keep going about our business as we normally would and be helpful to her in anyway we can and just continue being patient until she’s ready to come around.” Gene asks, “What if it takes a long time?”
“I don’t know,” Nick replies, “I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, let’s take it as it goes and see what happens.” Gene says, “Yeah okay.”
Finishing their hot chocolate Nick and Gene place their mugs in the sink and go back up the stairs using the back stairwell to their rooms.
Reaching the top landing Nick offers Gene to sleep with him for the night in which he graciously accepts. Going into the room and after climbing underneath the covers Nick asks of Gene, “You okay?” Gene replies, “Yeah. Are you?”
Nick tells him, “So far. Let’s try and fall asleep.”
Exchanging goodnights both Nick and Gene try going to sleep. While laying there looking at the other Nick takes the fingers of his right hand and soothingly runs them up and down Gene’s cheeks until he closes his eyes. Once he is sound asleep Nick lies there a little while longer until he manages to close his eyes and fall asleep.
Downstairs after sitting in front of the fireplace for quite awhile Victoria quietly gets up and ascends the steps. Entering her bedroom she closes the door and slowly makes her way to the bed removing her clothing as she goes along until she finally gets into her nightgown. Then climbing into bed she pets the pillow running her hand up and down the sheet while staring straight ahead until her exhausted body can’t take anymore and she finally goes off to sleep.